Romance novels come in all different shapes and sizes. There are small-town love stories and big-city meet-cutes. They can be told through different POVs or unfold over the course of the “then and now.” Love stories can take place in the past, future, or present, and center around queer relationships and BIPOC characters. Sometimes, the best rom-com includes an ensemble cast or expands into a whole fictional universe, too. All of this to say, the romance genre is so vast that sometimes choosing which book you should (or shouldn’t) read next based on a specific romance trope can be your best option.
So, what is a trope? A trope is a recurring theme or figurative pattern in storytelling, and they’re especially prevalent in romance books. For example, you may notice that some of your favorite romance stories center around a pair of coworkers who, despite hating each other, fall head over stilettos in love with one another. That trope is enemies to lovers.
Other popular romance tropes include forbidden love, the classic “one-bedroom” scenario, fake relationships, and childhood friends turned lovers. It’s also common for authors to combine one or two tropes in the same story. But whatever your rom-com kryptonite may be, this trope-inspired list has you and your sappy imagination covered.
If Your Favorite Romance Trope is “There’s Only One Bed,” Read:
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
With the clock ticking, Catalina Martín begrudgingly accepts her devilishly handsome yet unequivocally annoying coworker’s offer to pose as her fake boyfriend at her sister’s wedding… in Spain. Catalina’s American plus one has her family elated, and naturally, since they’ve traveled all this way, of course they’ll be staying at Catalina’s family home. Living in close quarters with your fake date isn’t ideal, or is it?
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Leon’s roommate-wanted ad is music to Tiffy’s ears. She’s newly single and with no place to stay, and Leon is driving a good bargain. She’ll have free reign of the flat on nights and weekends while Leon is working the night shift, and he’ll be there during the day while she is at the office. They’ll never have to cross paths. Alas, as their Post-it note paper trail leads to a deeper connection, Tiffy and Leon start to wonder if they can be more than just flatmates.
If Your Favorite Romance Trope Is Childhood Friends to Lovers, Read:
Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren
Love & Other Words paved the way for the childhood friends to lovers trope. In its pages, we meet childhood best friends-turned-sweethearts-turned-strangers Macy and Elliot, who reunite after not speaking to one another for a decade. Tolding in alternative timelines, spanning from their adolescence to present day, we learn how their friendship and, eventually, their love story came to be — and what caused it to come crashing down.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Poppy and Alex are college best friends who have spent the better part of the last decade living on opposite ends of the country, but that hasn’t stopped them from embarking on their annual summer vacation. Until two years ago, that is, when a seismic shift in their friendship caused them to hit pause on all future trips. Determined to get their friendship back on track, Poppy convinces Alex to take a trip with her, giving her seven days to win back his trust, friendship, and heart.
If Your Favorite Romance Trope Is Enemies To Lovers, Read:
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Now a major motion picture starring Lucy Hale, The Hating Game centers around a pair of executive assistants at a publishing company competing for the same promotion — who also happen to hate each other. Like, seriously, hate one another. Lucy thinks Joshua walks around with a stick up his you-know-what. Meanwhile, every single one of Lucy’s quirks (and she has a lot of them) lights Joshua’s insides on fire. But you know what they say, opposites attract.
Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner
In this sapphic enemies-to-lovers novel, USWNT member Grace Henderson finds herself in a teammates-with-benefits situation with the team’s rookie and her biggest rival, Phoebe. Their chemistry is electric, but a looming World Cup (and competitive team roster lineup) threatens to destroy their connection on and off the field.
If Your Favorite Romance Trope Is A Bet/Dare/Wager, Read:
Just My Type by Falon Ballard
A modern-day retelling of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Just My Type pits high school exes Lana and Seth against one another in hopes of landing their dream job. The wager: Each of them will be given the platform to document their dating life on a trendy website, and whoever has a bigger following will get the gig. A serial monogamist, Lana is tasked with staying single and indulging in a random hookup or two. Meanwhile, Seth, a self-proclaimed bachelor, must open himself up to a serious relationship. All is fair in love and war.
The Love Wager by Lynn Painter
After realizing they’re better off as friends following a one-night stand, Hallie and Jack form a pact to be each other’s wing-person. They swap date stories, pick-up lines, and even occasionally book dates at the same place so they can rehash afterward. To make things interesting, they place a bet to see who will find The One first. Albeit, the lines between wing-person, friend, and fake beau are blurred when they attend a wedding together under false pretenses.
If Your Favorite Romance Trope is My Sibling/Friend’s Friend/Sibling
The Off Limits Rule by Sarah Adams
Facing rock bottom straight in the face, our protagonist moves in with her big brother, where the rent, food, and wise advice are free. His only house rule? Stay far, far away from his commitment-phobe best friend, Cooper. Good thing rules are meant to be broken, right?
That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey
Newly divorced and desperate for a change of scenery, Garland takes a leap of faith and signs up to attend an adult sleepaway camp with her sister. Amid her self-healing and discovery, she runs into a man from her past whose sister, Stevie, has also tagged along. Between the camp bonfires and competitions, Garland finds herself going out of her way to spend time with Stevie. As the end nears, Garland’s camp souvenir takes on a new form and shape — one she never saw coming.